Fly Fishing Checklist

Fly Fishing Checklist

Among all the fishing techniques the one I ‘LOVE’ most is fly fishing no matter when I make my mind go fishing. For fly fishing, the place that I will always keep in the ‘Top’ of my list is Montana because of the surprising weather over there. For the diversified weather, you should give an in-depth focus on the fly fishing checklist when you decide to go on a fishing trip to Montana.

To be honest, Montana is such a place that is blessed with varieties of weather types all around the year – something rare you can find in other parts of the world. So, fly fishing in Montana needs your utmost attention as the weather can change pretty dramatically.

I would suggest you gather proper information regarding the best time for fishing because Montana is such a place where you would love to go for a fishing trip whenever you get an opportunity. So, my ‘BEST’ advice for you would be to give your utmost concern on your Montana fly fishing checklist.

This checklist may include fly fishing clothing, fishing gear and pieces of equipment, required accessories, and the dos and don’ts that you have to note down. In short, you have to make a thorough study of the fly fishing checklist so that you don’t miss out on any essential item.

Each time I go out fishing anywhere in Montana, the first thing I do is make a list of all of the required items. There are some items that I can live without, yet there are some which I consider deal-breakers.

So, at this point, you might have a question in mind – “What should I bring on a Montana fly fishing trip?”

I believe the next few sections of this article will assist you in finding the most thoughtful answer to the question.

Here, I’m going to share all of those accessories which you have to take with you while you go for a Montana Fly Fishing trip. I believe that my experiences over the years while fishing in Montana will be more than enough to give you the right kind of info.

Let’s ‘START’ our trip to Montana….

Montana Fly Fishing Checklist For A Beginner

While the individual needs and preferences may slightly vary, there’re some essential things you’ll need for any kind of fly fishing trip. This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank, but you must focus on investing in these basic items so that you won’t experience a situation where you’ll be an ill-prepared fisher during your Montana trip.

It is the type of checklist that you should consider as your must-have packing list. I recommend you to make a thorough research so that you can buy the best items within your estimated budget.

Is There Any Need For a Fishing Permit or License?

It won’t be wise enough to consider purchasing a fly fishing rod if you don’t have a fishing license or any other types of required permits. Keep in mind that – the requirements for the mentioned permits may vary a bit because of the locale and state fishing policy. But, as far as I can remember, almost all of them would charge a little less than $50 for giving you access to enjoy fishing for an entire season.

If you choose a different state other than Montana, then it will be better to gather accurate info about the fees and other requirements regarding fishing permits or licenses by contacting the local Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation.

I believe that following this way can help you the most for enjoying your fishing trip without any unexpected hassle or harassment.

Fly Fishing Gear for Your Montana Trip

Almost all the lodges and guides, doing business in Montana, usually offer all types of fishing gear – rods, reels, boots, and waders – in exchange for a fixed rent. If you plan to go for a guided trip, then you should focus on the gear that you need to take while packing your backpack.

But, there’s a problem you may face, if you have a tight budget. Very often, it is seen that the lodges or guides charge a higher price for the rental of fishing gear. To avoid such a case, I suggest you take your fishing gear so that you can get complete freedom while going for your fly fishing trip to Montana.

In the following, I’m going to share a fly fishing gear list so that you know what you need to pack:

Fly Fishing Rod, Reel & Matching Line – The Mandatory Ones

Fly Fishing Rod, Reel & Matching Line – The Mandatory Ones

Fly Fishing Rod

I must say that you can’t think of fly fishing if you don’t have a fly rod. You don’t need to have the most technologically advanced fly fishing rod for catching a fish. Even you don’t need an elementary fly fishing rod for catching a minimum amount of fish.

In the case of choosing the rod, you can go for an average fly fishing rod – if you’re a beginner. It is also recommended that you, being a beginner angler, can try fishing rods of a few styles to understand which one suits you most. For this, you have to pay a visit to the local market.

But, if you choose to purchase your fishing rod online (saving both money and time), then the case is different. In this case, the best way is to check the best fishing rod reviews given by skilled and experienced anglers.

An in-depth review regarding the fly fishing rods can help choose the ‘PERFECT’ fly rod for your fishing trip.

I always try to give heavy emphasis while choosing the rod for my fly fishing trip.

From my Montana fishing experiences, I want to suggest you bring two of your favorite fly fishing rods.

You may be thinking that is why I am suggesting bringing 2 rods.

Well, you never know what’s out there coming for you.

Let me share one personal experience of mine. During one of my fishing trips to Montana, somehow I broke one of my rods. This same can happen to you and it will surely ruin your trip.

Therefore, to be on the safest side, take 2 of your fishing rods while you’re out for your Montana fishing trip.

Fishing Reel

If you aren’t planning for a saltwater game of fishing or record-setting, huge trout, then you don’t require a fancy reel. As a beginner, you have to use the reel just for holding the line. Over time, when you become skilled and set out on a mission for catching larger fish, then you should consider investing in a sturdier reel that features sealed drag.

Having plenty of experience in fishing, I always try to spend more ‘TIME’ and ‘ENERGY’ while purchasing a reel. In the case of yours, I would recommend following the same.

Almost all anglers give their main focus on the rod, but the reel is something that can show the magic. You need a type of reel that has the strength to allow you to hang onto any kind of fish you’re planning to catch.

A good reel would cost you the same that you have to spend on a quality reel.

In the case of the reel, you should follow the same that I suggested for the fishing rod meaning you have to bring 2 of your favorite reels.

Additionally, you should also bring some spare tools so that you can change your fishing strategies depending on the fishing environment.

Fishing Line

Lastly, the fishing line – a crucial element that you need to earn success in your fishing quest. The avid fishermen know the higher cost associated with buying a line that is specifically designed for a particular fishing rod.

However, investing much in a line won’t be a wise decision for beginner anger. So, I recommend you to spend a little less when you purchase the first box of line for your fishing trip. Since it will be for an experiment purpose, so keeping a low budget would be good to start with.

There could be a rare chance that you won’t be sticking to this hobby, but the main risk is associated with the chances that you may end up with lots of pricey casts into other substances than fish.

So, I suggest you start with a low-budget fishing line on your first fishing trip. Once you become a skilled fisher, then you can make experiments using other types of lines depending on your skills.

Leader and Tippet – Are They Must for a Beginner?

It is known to almost anyone that leaders are connected to the ending point of the fly line. And, it gives you a visually pinpoint location between the line and fly.

Fly leaders are typically available ranging from 7 to 9 feet. But, depending on your specific requirement, you can also find fly leaders of other ranges as well.

While choosing the fly leader, you should focus on finding leaders that are made of monofilament nylon. The main reason I am recommending such a leader type because it will allow you moving the leader through the air in a more efficient way.

Tippets are usually placed at the end part of the fly leader and offer a specific spot where you can tie the fly. This particular mechanism is no way visible to fishes. So, you don’t need to bother about how it does look.

Tippets will let your fly swim in such a way so that it gets a completely natural look. And, this creates the chances of attracting the fish in a more meaningful way.

For a beginner, I would recommend choosing a tippet that is not more than 4 feet in its length. Always remember that you have to spend a good amount of time while picking a good quality tippet as it will increase the longevity of the leader.

Neither of the mentioned 2 items would cost you much, but it can make you feel frustrated if you fail to look for the ‘PERFECT’ fit for your fishing rod and flies.

In this case, my best suggestion – if you plan to use the shop-bought flies, then it would be better to make a thorough examination of the whole packaging. Almost all the manufacturers attach a printed chart on the packaging that will give you the idea of choosing the right kind of leader and tippet to be used with the fly.

Flies for Beginners to Start out

Another important element of fly fishing – you guessed it right –is the fly.

Surprisingly, it’s a fact that your overall success in fly fishing is sometimes dependent on choosing the right type of fly. As there are millions of fly types available in the market, so it could be a challenging job for you to pick the right one.

Even you have your way of choosing fly for your fly fishing trip, the best way in this case of choosing the right fly type is finding out the forage type in your preferred fishing area. Once you have a good understanding of what the fishes in that area are feasting on, it becomes an easier job for you to find the right kind of artificial lure.

You can visit the local fly shop to check what type of fly the shop owners suggest based on the fishing regions you are planning for your trip.

Fly Floatant & Line Dressing – Why Do You Need that?

You don’t have to make a big budget for the fly Floatant and line dressing items as they can be managed within the cost of a few dollars.

Fly floatant mainly works for keeping the flies dry while restricting them to absorb water. And, the line dressing will assist you with fly leaders and fly lines so that the line can run in a clean and smooth way.

In the case of fly floatant, there are different varieties available including powder shakes, gels, brush-on, spray-on, paste and some other types as well. But, I usually prefer the gel floatant because, with this type, I have the opportunity to apply it before I start casting.

Waders, Wading Boots – Be Comfortable & Safe

Wader has always been one of those personal pieces of fishing gear – according to my own experience. I believe this is also ‘TRUE’ for your case.

If the condition of your current waders is up to the mark (seam-sealed, breathable), then you can surely bring those for your fishing trip.

On the other hand, if you have a pair of waders made of rubber, with length up to hip, slightly poor fitting, or even in damaged condition, then it won’t be a good idea to ring those waders for the trip. Rather, you should look for a new pair of waders for this trip or you may go for the rental option – which one suits you ‘BEST’, you can choose that.

While you are traveling, wading boots can give you some sort of challenge. Apart from being bulky in size, there’re many other reasons for which you may opt for renting them from the guides.

As they are bigger, so it’s quite common that they need a larger space in your backpack. Plus, carrying them from one state to another could be somewhat annoying to most of the anglers.

However, if you’re living in Montana, then this won’t be a problem from you.

In this case, I can suggest another option that is available for you which is the felt free boots. A pair of felt free boots comes with a lot of advantages. For example, these felt free boots are easier to clean than wading boots. At the same time, these boots have the capability of getting dried faster than other boots.

Now, it’s up to you what type of boots you’re going to pick – wading boots or felt free boots.

Pack or Vest – Never Ignore as a Beginner

You can prefer either vest or pack – it is totally up to YOU. But, the thing you need to focus on is to ensure that your pack or vest is loaded with all of those required fishing supplies.

I recommend you to consider the following ones as somewhat mandatory for your fishing trip:

  • Nippers.
  • Forceps.
  • Wading Staff.
  • Strike indicators.
  • Fly Boxes.
  • Water Bottle – It is always the ‘BEST’ to keep your water bottle all the time to avoid many of those unnecessary problems.

Fly Fishing Clothing for Your Montana Trip

Fly Fishing Clothing for Your Montana Trip

It’s a fact that the weather of Montana can take a sudden change – from a nearly freezing morning to a warm & sunny afternoon. No matter the season you choose for your Montana Fishing trip, I suggest you take a variety of layers with you. And, each day during fishing time, it would be better to wear a multi-layered dress.

Depending on the duration of your entire trip, you may need to bring duplicates of each dress type you pack.

Base Layer is The Most Important of All

Let’s start right from the core – the base layer I mean. You can choose short-sleeved or long-sleeved – it’s totally up to your ‘COMFORT’. I won’t say you have to choose either this or that. In the case of the base layer, you get to choose what you feel comfortable with while fishing in Montana.

But, it is ‘IMPORTANT’ to remember that the base layer must have those quick-drying or moisture-wicking properties. Having such kind of properties will work for keeping you dry all the time you’re out enjoying fishing.

Another point you have to note down if you plan to make your visit to Montana during the Colder seasons. During that colder season, you should pick a covering type base layer with such moisture-wicking properties.

Don’t Forget the Mid-layer

The mid-layer you’ll be choosing will completely depend on the time of the year you plan to make your trip.

Because of the weather conditions in different seasons, the mid-layer can also vary ranging from a lightweight shirt to an insulated pullover (quarter-zip).

But, the thing that matters here most is your mid-layer must also have those same properties of your base-layer which I have already mentioned.  Having such kind of moisture-wicking mid-layer will help you feel comfortable at the time of fishing. Also, it will keep you dry which is necessary to avoid any unnecessary medical emergencies.

Synthetic Jacket or Down Sweater – Why You Must Need It?

I would suggest you take a synthetic insulated jacket or down sweater (mid-weight) if you’re planning to travel to the Northern Rockies. If you carefully pack them, they won’t take up much of space in your fishing backpack. Besides, they won’t come in front of you until you need them.

These jackets or sweaters can work as a complete lifesaver at times when a cold front passes through while you’re enjoying with your friends or family. Also, you can use them as an emergency pillow for car naps or camping trips.

However, if you plan evenings with relaxation beside any campfire, keep in mind that sparks from the fire can cause damage to those synthetic fabric items. To enjoy such an evening without any hassle, my suggestion for you would be to choose denim, wool, or any lined flannel shirt. Follow my advice and enjoy your campfire to the fullest.

Merino Wool Socks – Feel the COMFORT

Some anglers think that having a perfect pair of waders is enough to keep the feet dry. But, my own experiences say that even if you have the BEST breathable waders, you may not feel ‘COMFORTABLE’ with the changing temperatures of warm earth and cold water. Without having the right gear, a day on your fishing trip can be ruined.

For this reason, I recommend using the Merino Fishing Socks because it will pull all the moisture away from your feet as this sock type has some sort of antimicrobial properties.

I always put a pair of Merino Wool Socks in my backpack whenever I plan to make a fly fishing tour in Montana. In the case of yours, I would suggest the same.

Rain Shell Jacket – Should You Take It?

Any sudden rain during the summer days can stir up the fishes in the water or it can also lead to a plentiful hatch. You have to prepare yourself to make the best use of such an opportunity. You just can’t get soaking wet because of that unexpected rain.

To be prepared for facing such cases, I always have a rain shell jacket. This jacket type can give you the protection you want from sudden rain and wind as well. Consequently, it will offer you the ‘COMFORT’ you need for fishing with your full attention.

It is always ‘IMPORTANT’ for an angler to give a higher level of focus while selecting the right kind of fly fishing clothing so that the trip can be enjoyed at its best.

Accessories You Need as a Beginner

While fishing gear and clothing will give you ‘COMFORT’, your accessories will allow you to fish in your usual style. This doesn’t necessarily mean you would take all of those things that comfort you most, but some accessories can make your trip to Montana a special one.

Here is a list of accessories that I consider important enough to give you a better fishing experience:

Polarized Sunglasses – Don’t the Sun Bother You

A pair of polarized sunglasses is the first thing you should add to this list. Sometimes, the sun ray may cause trouble while you’re out sight fishing. But, having a pair of quality sunglasses can help you get relief during those circumstances.

Hand Warmers & Fishing Gloves – Get These Always Ready

As the weather in Montana is a diversified one, so you can never predict it. Rather than being reactive, I would suggest you be proactive in this case.

Even in the middle of the summer season, the temperature in Montana can have a huge change. And, this may require the need of hand warmer at any moment. Otherwise, you may get sick within a matter of time. And, consequently, that is enough to ruin your entire trip to Montana.

In case of mine, I prefer to have my fishing gloves on while I’m out there for fishing. So, I think you would do the same for a better experience.

River Sandals – Offers the Utmost Comfort

A pair of good-quality river sandals is another needed item to enjoy your fishing trip to Montana to the fullest.

Going on a fishing trip doesn’t mean you’ll spend all of your time fishing. There will be a time when you may want to take a break and wet your feet for relaxation.

For that particular event, I think having a pair of river sandals can give you the utmost comfort.

Hat – Protection from Sun

When you’re out for fishing, I can assume you will spend the entire day time on the boat. To have protection from the sun, it is a wise decision to bring your favorite hats for the trip.

Sunscreen & Lip Balm – Protect Your Skin

The weather in the Rockies comes up with the sun than can be somewhat harsher than that of the sea level. If not taken care of properly, your skin will burn for sure. For that reason, I always prefer to have my sunscreen before going to my boat. You should also bring your sunscreen to have complete protection for your skin.

At the same time, you should also add Lip Balm to your list so that you have protection from the UV rays also.

Fly Fishing Checklist Table For Beginners

Fly Fishing Checklist Table
Fishing Gear· Fishing Rod
· Fishing Reel
· Fishing Line
· Ladder & Tippet
· Fly Floatant & Line Dressing
· Flies
· Waders, Wading Boots
· Vest or Pack
Fishing Clothing· Base Layer
· Mid Layer
· Synthetic Jacket or Down Sweater
· Merino Wool Socks
· Rain Shell Jacket
Fishing Accessories· Polarized Sunglasses
· Hand Warmers & Fishing Gloves
· River Sandals
· Hand Warmers & Fishing Gloves
· River Sandals
· Hat
· Sunscreen & Lip Balm

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best time to go for a fishing trip to Montana?

Answer: Weather in Montana varies a lot even during a specific season. So, it is not possible to give you this answer within a sentence.

I would suggest you gather more info about the best time for fishing in Montana before you plan for your trip. It is recommended that you should never go for a Montana fishing trip without having a piece of proper knowledge about the Montana weather.

2. What are the best fishing spots in Montana?

Answer: There are plenty of fishing spots available in Montana.

It is always better to have proper info about those Montana Fishing Spots before you choose a specific place. Picking the right fishing spot can give you an unforgettable fishing memory that you have never imagined.

3. What fish can you catch in Montana?

Answer: As of this date, there are around 85+ different species of fish available out there in Montana fishing spots.

Depending on the skill and experience, you will be able to catch fish. But, make sure you are sufficiently prepared before your Montana fishing trip. This will surely give you a whole lot of advantages over other anglers.

Final Thought

By this time, you have to know that Montana is a place where the weather is unpredictable. You can experience a sudden cold breeze in summer with a rainy day in Winter as well.

Therefore, to enjoy a pleasant Montana fishing trip, you should have proper knowledge about fishing spots and fishing season in Montana. At the same time, you have to pack all the needed items to make your fly fishing experience in Montana an unforgettable one.

I believe I have added almost all the required items in this discussion about Fly Fishing Checklist. However, if you think I have missed out to add any, make sure you mention that in the comment box below.

I wish you an enjoyable fly fishing trip to Montana! Good-Bye!

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